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Cardinal installs pastor

September 04, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - Cardinal William Keeler, archbishop of Baltimore, has been to St. Ann Catholic Church before, but Sunday's visit was one of his busier ones, said the Rev. C. Douglas Kenney.

Keeler formally installed Kenney as the eighth pastor of St. Ann Parish, spoke at the dedication of the church's new building, which was recently completed, and blessed the church's new pipe organ and choir loft.

"It's great to be back in Hagerstown," he said. "I've seen such growth in the area over the years."

Keeler said he made his first visit to the church in the 1980s, and since then the town and the parish have expanded. Before a reception that followed Mass Sunday, Keeler said it was an opportunity to celebrate the history of the church, now in its 40th year, and its future, with a growing congregation and a new building.

Kenney, who has been at St. Ann for only two months, called it a "proud legacy and a new beginning" for the church.

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"That's what we celebrate today," he said.

The new building was named the Monsignor Edward Manalis Parish Center. The two-story center houses the parish offices, library, kitchen, and meeting and gathering rooms. Work is still being done on an existing building that is connected to the new building.

Kenney was ordained to the priesthood after 21 years in the U.S. Navy and six years studying at Mount St. Mary's Seminary and College. He was ordained by Keeler in 1999.

Kenney was previously assigned as pastor of two Western Maryland parishes.

Toward the end of the morning Mass, Kenney said, "I want to thank the Holy Spirit for bringing me to St. Ann's."

As he said the words, Kenney's eyes began to tear up. The estimated 800 people who filled the church all stood and clapped.

"He very much wants to be here, and we very much want him to be here," said Lori Balog of Hagerstown.

Balog attended the Mass and reception with her husband and three daughters. About 1 p.m., she was waiting in line to shake Keeler's hand before going into the reception in the newly dedicated building.

John Jardinier, parish council president, said it is rare for Keeler and the Rev. W. Francis Malooly, western vicar of the Baltimore archdiocese, to visit together.

"It's very special," he said. "That's not something that happens that often at all."

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